National Ethics Advisory Committee calls for public feedback on health and disability research ethical standards

News article

24 July 2018

The National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) is calling for public feedback on proposed new standards for all health and disability research.

NEAC has drafted the National Ethics Standards for Health and Disability Research, which sets out the established ethical standards that apply to all health and disability research in New Zealand.

Health and disability research aids knowledge about preventing and treating illness and disease, maintaining and improving people’s health and wellbeing and supporting people with disabilities – but it must be carried out in an ethical way.

That’s where these standards apply. The standards are primarily targeted at individual researchers but they are also of use to ethics committees, research sponsors and for training and educating researchers.

The key objectives of the standards are to:

  • safeguard the rights and interests of participants in research
  • promote high-quality ethical research for social, cultural and economic wellbeing
  • reflect the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • foster awareness of ethical principles and practices among health care providers, researchers and the wider community
  • help researchers think through and take responsibility for the ethical issues in their studies
  • help researchers give due consideration to local and national community views and perspectives
  • protect and reassure the community.

NEAC wants to know whether the standards are still fit for purpose, helpful, clear, relevant and workable; and whether the standards cover all relevant ethical issues.

The consultation period for public feedback runs from 26 July 2018 to 5pm on 20 September 2018.

People can take part in the consultation by visiting the Health Consultation Hub.

NEAC is also planning to run face-to-face meetings during the period. Please see the NEAC website for meeting dates and venues.

For any enquiries relating to the consultation, please contact NEAC@moh.govt.nz.

Background

NEAC is an independent advisor to the Minister of Health. NEAC was established in 2001 by section 16 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000.

The National Ethics Advisory Committee’s statutory functions are to:

  • provide advice to the Minister of Health on ethical issues of national significance in respect of any health and disability matters (including research and health services)
  • determine nationally consistent ethical standards across the health and disability sector and provide scrutiny for national health research and health services.

In 2015 NEAC committed to a review of the 2012 Ethical Guidelines for Intervention Studies and Ethical Guidelines for Observational Studies: Observational Research, Audits and Related Activities. In order to review the 2012 guidelines and develop new standards determined by NEAC, the Ministry of Health established a Working Party to create a first draft.

This work was aligned with the Health Research Strategy 2017, which contained commitments to address investment and strengthening of health research in New Zealand, particularly with the focus of reducing inequity and improving health outcomes.

The guidelines also form part of a general strengthening of the regulatory environment for health research, as the Therapeutic Products Bill recognises that ethics is an integral part of research conduct, resulting in protection and safety of participants in research.